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Project Hope Finances 2.5 Million Poor Rural Students

China's Project Hope has financed the education of more than 2.5 million poor rural students since its establishment 14 years ago.

Initiated in 1989, the project aims to finance the schooling of students from rural families living in poverty. It consists of programs to build Project Hope primary schools in poor rural areas, establish Project Hope scholarships in high schools and universities, carry out distance education initiatives and train rural teachers.

To date, the project has received more than 2.2 billion yuan (US$265 million) of domestic and overseas donations. These funds have been used in the renovation and building of 9,508 Project Hope primary schools that have accommodated a total of more than 3 million pupils, said an official of the China Youth Development Foundation, which is responsible for the operation of the project.

Some 80 percent of the Hope Project primary schools and students aided by the project were in China's middle and western regions, which were less developed, said the official.

Project Hope has also helped build distance learning centers, libraries and video centers, trained rural school teachers and granted scholarships to outstanding high school and university students from rural areas, the official said.

According to an appraisal report, 93.9 percent of residents in 29 provincial capital cities aged above 16 have heard of Project Hope, and 63.5 percent have contributed to it in various ways. The report drew the conclusion that Project Hope has become the largest and most influential non-government welfare project in China.

Official statistics reveal that there are still some 40 million students from poor families that need aid nationwide, including 34 million primary and junior high school students.

Gu Xiaojin, secretary general of the China Youth Development Foundation, said the organization would strive to raise more funds and finance the schooling of more students in the future.

(Xinhua News Agency December 12, 2003)

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